If you make a game where the character is gay but they never say they’re gay, you’re fresh out of luck for being considered for a GLAAD award for Outstanding Video Game for their annual GLAAD Media Awards.
“Given to a video game with outstanding LGBTQ-inclusive content. Award is given for an interactive experience that includes authentic and impactful LGBTQ characters or storylines. Judging will take into consideration the degree to which the LGBTQ-inclusive content is effectively woven into gameplay, including player agency and the world itself. […]”
As noted in the description, the depiction must be “interactive” and must include “authentic” and “impactful” characters. The characters must also be included within the world-building so that it is “effectively woven” into the game itself.
This description is also further clarified within the four rules of eligibility, which states that the game must be released between January 1st, 2018 and December 31st, 2018, but that games released before January 1st, 2018 must have additional story-related DLC that adds “substantial” content to the game that highlights the LGBTQIA character.
Now there’s a caveat to this. It just can’t be a character that happens to be trans but they never come out and say it; or a gay character who never makes their sexuality known. The character must be “revealed” explicitly in the game as LGBTQ, as the third rule dictates…
“The video game must contain LGBTQ-inclusive content that is revealed either in the game itself or through official canon by means of alternate media.”
So this means that subtle characterizations where you’re not really sure about the character’s sexuality doesn’t count. This means that many mainstream Japanese games where character sexuality isn’t prominently featured in the story will definitely be discounted. But even other Japanese games like Nights of Azure will also likely be skipped over, too.
Given that majority of game characters are asexual, this means that LGBTQ characters must be given preferential treatment in their characterizations so that everyone knows that they’re lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, or queer.
Now there are ways for the game to include such content and not be considered propaganda, such as visual novels specifically designed around sexuality like yuri, otome, or boy’s love sub-genres, or point-and-click games like My Ex-Boyfriend The Space Tyrant, which doesn’t hide or mask what kind of content it is; but GLAAD isn’t interested in the smaller, niche titles. They want the big, throbbing blockbusters to wrap their lips around.
Zeke Stokes, the VP of programs at GLAAD, told Hollywood Reporter that the awards category was designed to capitalize on the growth of the gaming market and specifically that they wanted to target young gamers to influence them about the alternative lifestyle. Stokes said that the AAA market is where the biggest influence is…
“[…] There was an unprecedented number of LGBTQ-inclusive games in 2017. Last of Us: Part II’s trailer featured a lesbian kiss. The industry is ready to give LGBT characters bigger roles, so it’s a lot of what’s already happening in the industry combined with the vastness of it all. Seeing a lot of young people gravitate toward gaming as a primary or preferred source of entertainment is another factor. The very baseline of it is a matter of numbers. If we’re working to make sure LGBTQ people are included in media, we can’t ignore the video gaming space, and it’s super evident the gaming industry is willing to make this step.
“[…] When you think about LGBTQ in a AAA game, you look at the numbers compared to films or TV, and in many, many cases the numbers aren’t even comparable. Games are bigger. That’s one of the reasons it’s super important to be paying attention to games. We’ve seen the industry begin to embrace this. A lot has been done at the sub-AAA level, but we’re interested in making sure the big-budget games are including [LGBT themes].”
And if you think this is about rewarding game developers who create niche games for the niche audience, think again.
Stokes makes it known that it’s about using the video game space as a platform for propaganda – to spread the word to those who are not interested in the LGBTQ content, especially youth. This is opposed to simply rewarding developers who already make that kind content catered specifically toward that demographic. Stokes explained…
“When it comes to reaching a wide swath of young people this is an important way to do it. For LGBTQ people, gaming is one of those spaces where they can experiment with owning their identity [when] they may not be ready to do in their real life. A place to try on their authentic self in an environment that is not threatening. Making sure that we are reaching people where they are with messages of inclusion is very important.”
A “message of inclusion” is obviously not organic. A “message” literally means that they are trying to get across a very specific ideological bias directed toward the audience, and it’s not about organically developing content for the people who want it, but rather to inculcate people who are not aware of it, which is why Stokes told Hollywood Reporter that they’ve been working with the big game studios to include more LGBTQ content into AAA games, rather than focusing on working with smaller indie studios like Up Multimedia, which is a studio that only makes games for the LGBTQ community…
“We’ve been in conversation with a lot of the studios leading up to the announcement. We didn’t want to enter this space without their counsel. We have been working behind the scenes with a lot of the big companies to leverage their insight and expertise to create a category that would have weight and meaning and attract submissions to give the industry an optimistic path forward. The feedback has been universally positive. We’re working with content creators just as we have in Hollywood to help them craft these stories.”
This is why we see growing trends of gay and trans characters in games even when it makes no sense at all, like in Mass Effect: Andromeda where a character’s only defining trait when the player interacts with them is explaining how they’re trans.
Overall, the awards themselves seem silly in context. Why exactly is a character being awarded based on who they sleep with?
I mean, in that case we may as well have awards for movies/games/comics with the best depiction of a BBW, or the movie/game/comic that features the best soap-dropping prison scene, or the movie/game/novel/comic that celebrates whatever [current year] fetish that’s trending within the circles of the soy-guzzling Liberals hanging around the feces-drenched streets of the human-jungle known as San Francisco, all while they cash in their welfare checks and beg for Patreon donations through their blue check-marked Twitter accounts.
Anyway, to sum it all up…
TL;DR: GLAAD is working with AAA studios to promote LGBTQ characters who make it known to the player that they are LGBTQ. Subtlety be damned. GLAAD will be promoting and awarding games that prominently promote the SJW agenda (such as Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, The Last of Us Part II, or Mass Effect: Andromeda) by including video games in their GLAAD Awards set to take place in April of 2019. The organization will be working with more AAA studios to promote LGBTQ content directed towards kids and mainstream audiences.
(Thanks for the news tip Ennis)